Investigate Harassment of LGBTQ youth at Sequoyah High School & Allow a GSA
  • Petitioned Sheriff

This petition was delivered to:

Monroe County Sheriff
Monroe County Schools Director
Michael Lowry
Monroe County Sheriff
Bill Bivens
Monroe County Schools Attorney
Chuck Cagle

Investigate Harassment of LGBTQ youth at Sequoyah High School & Allow a GSA

    1. Petition by


This is a joint petition by the Tennessee Equality Project and Gay-Straight Alliance Network’s Make It Better Project.

When several students at Sequoyah High School in Madisonville, Tennessee tried to start a Gay-Straight Alliance club after years of bullying, their principal said no. When the students circulated a petition and gathered 150 student signatures supporting the club, the principal banned petitions. When this brought local media scrutiny and the attention of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the administration blocked the club based on its failure to secure an advisor. Although the students found teachers who seemed supportive and willing to serve as advisers, all eventually withdrew without explanation.

Now, according to the ACLU, Principal Moser has allegedly assaulted one student, Chris Sigler, for wearing a handmade shirt that read “GSA: We’ve got your back” – grabbing his arm and chest-bumping him while asking “Who’s the big man now?”

Despite the complaint filed by Chris and his mother, the Sheriff’s Department has failed to interview his sister, who witnessed the alleged assault, or his mother, who witnessed additional behavior from the principal.
Demand that the Sheriff’s Department fully investigate this incident, and further, that Monroe County Schools approve the GSA, state that teachers who agree to advise the GSA will not face repercussions (as demanded by the TN ACLU), and address the hostile environment that LGBTQ students face at Sequoyah.

Under the Federal Equal Access Act, students have the right to form a Gay-Straight Alliance club in public schools that allow other extra-curricular clubs. GSA clubs can be a lifeline for students dealing with bullying and harassment. The tragic deaths of many young people by suicide in the past year have illustrated the importance of safe spaces, resources, and anti-bullying campaigns for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth. It is unconscionable for the district to erect barriers between its students and a safe learning environment, but Sequoyah’s refusal to allow a GSA – and the administration’s harassment of supportive students and teachers – amounts to just that.

Young people need to know that they can make it better, and that there are resources out there for them, including the Make It Better Project, the Tennessee Equality Project, GLSEN Middle Tennessee, GLSEN East Tennessee, and GSA Network.

Recent signatures


    1. TN School District affirms students' first amendment rights over GSA

      The Monroe County Board of Education agreed to allow students to wear T-shirts in support of the formation of a gay-straight alliance (GSA) at Sequoyah High School. Students have gathered upwards of 150 signatures supporting their push to start the GSA at Sequoyah.

    2. LGBTQ Nation covers gay-straight alliance petition

      Check out this awesome coverage of the Tennessee Equality Project's and the GSA Network's petition calling for a gay-straight alliance at Sequoyah High School.

    3. WBIR (NBC): School Under Fire After Thousands Sign Petition

      Check out this update from WBIR (NBC), noting that tens of thousands of people have signed the petition calling for a GSA at Sequoyah High School, and calling on Principal Moser to be investigated for allegedly harassing a pro-GSA student.

    4. Knoxville News Sentinel notes "more than 83,000" stand behind Chris Sigler

      An article in the Knoxville News Sentinel covers the scope of the campaign to start a GSA at Seqouyah High School, and investigate Sequoyah's principal for allegedly assaulting Chris Sigler because of a pro-GSA T-shirt.

    5. Perez Hilton writes about efforts to stand up for Sequoyah's GSA

      Perez Hilton has a post up talking about the GSA Network's and Tennessee Equality Project's work to stand up against this principal's alleged assault, and to get a gay-straight alliance established at Sequoyah High School.

    6. Associated Press covers Chris Sigler's story and the work to start a GSA

      The Associated Press (AP) draws attention to the efforts to start a gay-straight alliance at Sequoyah High School.

    7. Reached 75,000 signatures
    8. ACLU involved with East TN students' fight to start gay-straight alliance

      Excellent news. The ACLU has given Sequoyah High until October 11 to respond. Check out WBLR's TV news report.

    9. Reached 750 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • James Robertson MCKINLEYVILLE, CA
      • about 3 years ago

      I am writing to demand that the Sheriff'sDept. of Monroe County, TN investigate the assault on Chris Sigler as a HATE CRIME and for the DISTRICT ATTYS. OFC. of Monroe Co. to follow up on this as well in like manner. There is no excuse for allowing a student's CIVIL AND HUMAN RIGHTS to be violated so flagrantly, and then so completely ignored. I'm sure that if the assault victim were the not involved in a GSA or were the Sheriff's child, or if the victim were a straight student on the football team, for instance, the student's Civil, Constitutional, and Human Rights and justice would not have been denied. If this is ignored at the state level, then the U.S. Atty's Ofc. of TN MUST become involved, OR I implore the ACLU of TN petition the U.S.Justice Dept. for MUST become involved, as this is OBVIOUSLY a Hate Crime, MAKING IT A fEDERAL CRIME. It is TOTALLY UNCONSCIONABLE that Monroe County School District would allow this principal to continue to work at Sequoia HS after such a serious alllegation-an allegation that appears to be absolutly true due to the Sheriff's Dept's refusal to allow the Victim's (Chris Sigler's)sister to be interviewed and Chris' mother as well, and continnues to put not only Chris' safety at risk, but other students involved w/a GSA as well. If it happened once, then what prevents it from happening again? I think that a class-action lawsuit against the Monroe Co. School District should definately be considered, as they seem to be completely ambivalent and unconcerned for the safety and welfare of their students. They obviously fail to even consider the seriousness of one of their principals ATTACKING A STUDENT! What in hell is going-on there and why is this Hate Crime being ignored? Since this IS A HATE CRIME, THAT MAKES THIS A FEDERAL CRIME! What is the reason that congress enacted such important legislation, just to have this ignored so thoroughly? I further demand that the Monroe County School District allow the establishment of a GSA, and, as I suspected since the teachers were most likely threatened by the principal(or the School District) for their desired involvement with the creation of a GSA, that they be protected from any and all potential or actual repercussions arising from their involvement with honoring the student bodies request for their support as advisors for a GSA, and their approval of a GSA for the students who have had the courage to fight this travesty of justice in such a horribly repressive environment. This is one of the very reasons that I left the entire East Coast in 1992-to escape what I saw as such terrible, entrenched hatred and bigotry. I am so very proud of Chris Sigler, his sister, mother, and almost especially proud of

      the straight students who have supported their fellow GLBT students.This is almost as difficult in such a place as being the gay students for whom they offer their support. I lived in Maryland-almost as bad as TN-not quite, though. I traveled a lot throughout the southeastern states, so I know full-well the mind-set of the majority. Please hang in there ya'll. SEE? I still say ya'll, You can take the boy outta the east, but...I would like to further encourage the ACLU to assist Chris in pursuing this case as a Hate Crime. Just because this weak excuse for a principal holds that position, does not give him any immunity from the injustice he has bestowed upon Chris Sigler-No student should EVER have to suffer the indignity of such an assault. Chris, You are a very strong brother. I surely wish that had YOUR COURAGE when I was in Junior High& High School back on the East Coast. You and your fellow students everywhere in the country-especially in those places where ya'll face such evil and still fight for a righteous cause-Your Civil, Constitutional, and Human Rights.You, and everyone fighting the injustice and intolerance are an inspiration.We are all Children of Light-

      PEACE and LOVE to You ALL. SHINE ON BRIGHTLY, Carrington CareBear

    • elsa biaggi MIAMI, FL
      • about 3 years ago

      The principal's behavior is unacceptable. He should be fired.

    • KyLene Pederson BOERNE, TX
      • about 3 years ago

      I believe students should have just as much of an opportunity to make a club like this to help people be more understanding as any other club, and this one actually stands for something important and could be a good model to other communities as well.

    • Carolina Luna SILVER SPRING, MD
      • about 3 years ago


    • Paul Bobbitt TORONTO, CANADA
      • about 3 years ago

      What are the chances that this principal will help a gay kid who comes to him about being bullied, when he's one of the (alleged) bullies himself?


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